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Art Without Rules

Freedom and introspection are the only two rules Jacqueline Athmann lives by when it comes to creating her art.

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Growing up in a suburb of Minneapolis, she was encouraged to paint when her sister purchased a canvas for her at the age of eleven. She was mesmerized shortly after by a magazine ad with wet paint splotches and dripping wet paint drops.

She recently began a “Wet Paint” series inspired by that ad.

“Once the paint dries, the paint color dulls and darkens and never has the same look and feel,” Athmann explains. “This is what inspired me to start photographing the painting as I paint so I could enjoy the paint longer.”

Photography is a passion for Athmann in addition to painting. It is “a great way to be artistic when I’m unable to be in my studio or am not inspired to paint.” She confesses she is still learning photography but it keeps her active and interested in the surrounding world.

She particularly admires the work of Bansky whose political and social commentary can be seen on walls, bridges and buildings in numerous cities around the globe.

“I love Bansky’s humor, rebellious nature and the simple yet dramatic way that he sends his message,” says Athmann. “I believe we would have a great conversation and learn from each other.”

After watching  a video on YouTube where she paints “Consoling Strength” I recognized Athmann’s wonderful outlook and attitude.

“My paintings are created in chaos and with a lot of surrounding plastic in the immediate area…typically very thick with layers of paint,” says Athmann. “This kind of work is usually over 15 layers of paint or more.  Getting the right look takes time and the process is something I enjoy very much.”

Of course, the viewer may not recognize the layers but certainly can appreciate the finished product.

Relying on intuition, Athmann doesn’t have a plan when she steps in front of a canvas, though it is something she is working on. “I have been known to step in front of a canvas, work for over 8 hours without a break,” says Athmann. “Once I start, it’s very difficult to stop.”

For Athmann, painting alleviates anxiety and daily stress. It frees her mind from racing thoughts and worry. Just the glistening paint makes her happy.

“When I paint, I can create and feel any way I want to,” says Athmann. There are no rules. All art is beautiful to someone.”

Athmann’s philosophy and advice to aspiring artists? Don’t stop. Believe in yourself.  Find your path.  Don’t waste a day.

An attitude everyone should live by.

Athmann’s work can be found here.

Follow her on Twitter @That1chikuknow or on Facebook.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info  Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services

Writers, This Says It All…

Storytelling is in the Genes

Having a mother who mesmerizes an audience with her storytelling skills is bound to spark the imagination.  betteleecrosbyarticle

So it was for Bette Lee Crosby.

“My Mom was an awesome storyteller,” says Crosby. “She could mesmerize a room full of children with her fantastic tales. Listening to her helped me to discover the magic in storytelling.”

No doubt having parents with Southern heritages influenced Crosby’s writing. Some of her books have a distinctive Southern flavor. Her books are not necessarily set in the South but her characters retain a touch of Southern charm and faith.

Crosby admires all writers with the courage and determination to write. “Authors are a special breed,” says Crosby. “We are both dreamers and doers. We battle windmills every day and we do it for the joy of telling a story.”

Like most authors, Crosby loves to read. She reads across genres, favoring literary and women’s fiction. “What I truly enjoy is finding a book where I honestly care about what happens to the protagonist. When that happens, it’s a magical experience that takes me into another world.”

A USA Today best-selling author, Crosby is no stranger to the writing process. “I start with creating the characters long before I start writing the story. I make myself think like them and that enables me to gauge how they will react in any given situation.” Crosby’s characters are composites of people she knows or has known, making them characters to which a reader can relate.

Compelling characters in sometimes adverse situations lend a good deal of authenticity to Crosby’s stories. Ordinary people overcoming fears, helping someone in need, climbing a mountain that people said couldn’t be climbed: these are the characters found in Crosby’s novels. They also depict people that most of us know or would like to know which contributes to the popularity of her books. All of her books have a rating average of 4-star or above.

Writing for business made the transition to writing fiction virtually inevitable. In 2010, being unhappy with her current publisher’s pricing policies, Crosby and her then-retired husband formed Bent Pine Publishing through which Crosby’s books are published.

Currently, Crosby is working on The Memory House, a prequel which connects to several previously published works, a delightful project because, “I got to revisit some of my favorite characters and meet some charming new ones.”

An author she would love to meet is Harper Lee, if only for the opportunity to ask why she wrote no other book after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Author Links:

Blog:   http://betteleecrosby.com

Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3222582.Bette_Lee_Crosby

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Bette-Lee-Crosby/e/B005TLT1PK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/bette-lee-crosby/id662962062?mt=11

Barnes and Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bette-Lee-Crosby?store=allproducts&keyword=Bette+Lee+Crosby

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BetteLeeCrosby

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Bette-Lee-Crosby/284499021568642

Newsletter sign up:   http://betteleecrosby.com/lets-connect/

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

SpareChange-1400px-2

Book Review: Spare Change

Bette Lee Crosby

Print Length: 280 pages

ISBN: 0983887918

Publisher: Bent Pine Publishing (November 11, 2013)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

I’ve come to expect surprises from Bette Lee Crosby’s books. Spare Change is no exception and certainly no disappointment.

Meet Olivia Westerly, a fifty-eight year old woman who falls in love late in life. She marries Charlie Doyle and they whisk off to Miami Beach to celebrate their honeymoon. Unfortunately, the honeymoon is cut short when Charlie dies of a heart attack.

Enter eleven-year-old Ethan Allan Doyle, Charlie’s only grandson. When Ethan witnesses murder, he strikes out with the hope of living with the grandfather he’s never met. Instead he meets his newly-widowed grandmother who isn’t prepared to take care of this roguish boy.

Crosby’s characters are sometimes quirky, sometimes frustrating and always authentic. Their personality traits are sometimes endearing and sometimes off-the-wall. For instance, Olivia is superstitious: she has a phobia of the number eleven. So when an eleven-year-old knocks on her door, she is immediately skittish about the number as well as the boy. Ethan, raised without discipline and hardly any attention, curses randomly and with passion and has little trust of this stranger.

Crosby deftly weaves the story introducing the characters in a way that doesn’t make the outcome obvious. It keeps the reading interesting when you don’t know where the story is going until you get there.

What I enjoy most about Crosby’s writing is she gives us intimate glimpses into the characters by dedicating a chapter to an individual character’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions. It’s a wonderful technique and Crosby handles it with finesse.

I enjoy a well-written tale where characters undergo changes, for better or worse. Spare Change fills the bill.

Find Spare Change here.

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at http://www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

The Beginning of The End

theendcover

Book Review: The End

G. Michael Hopf

Print Length: 408 pages

ISBN: 1478195487

Publisher: Plume (October 30, 2013)

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

The title is The End but, in truth, it is the beginning.

On December 15, 2014, civilization as we know it comes to an end. Surviving the ordeal is the beginning.

Mr. Hopf paints an incredibly realistic picture of what could happen if this nation were struck with an Electromagnetic Pulse as well as nuclear strikes. He skillfully tackles every aspect of daily life: community, military and political.

On the community level, we are focused on the neighborhood of Rancho Valentino, close to the city of San Diego. As civilization breaks down in the weeks after the initial attacks, the reader is witness to neighbor turning against neighbor in the quest for survival. Gordon Van Zandt’s first priority is to ensure the survival of his family, no matter the cost.

On the military front, we witness General Barone as he and his Marines go rogue. Contradicting orders to help with clean up on the East coast, Barone heads his men and an amphibian ship to California so they might find their families. Going against orders pits Americans against one another and Gordon’s brother Sebastian Van Zandt gets caught in the middle.

In the political arena, with Washington, DC wiped out by an outright nuclear attack, Speaker of the House Brad Connor is now the new President. Connor isn’t accustomed to giving orders but he toughens up fairly quickly.

The government has its own hard-wired Internet system in an attempt to preserve a functioning government and to keep abreast of events. Of course, the government has hidden bunkers across the United States to also ensure a functioning government.

Mr. Hopf’s depiction is realistic: grim but realistic. In all fairness, the situation would be much more grim were attacks such as these actually perpetrated upon the United States. People killing each other over a scrap of food or a drink of water; vigilantes taking what they want; drug cartels and other enemies of the United States attacking and taking over: Losing our humanity in an effort to survive reduces people to hardly anything more than barbarians.

The illustration of the breakdown of society represented here should be a wake-up call for everyone in this country. Not only those in power, but for all citizens.

Which is why I recommend this series as a must-read for every citizen in this country. Preparation for events such as these should be mandatory for every citizen because when the poop hits the fan, it’s going to be every man, woman and child for him/herself.

Arm yourself with knowledge so you won’t be caught unaware. Invest in The New World series by G. Michael Hopf.

Find The End here: http://amzn.to/1wf4EKf

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle, is a fictitious account of an EMP attack on the United States with women heroes. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at http://www.penspen.info Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

December 6, 2006: Major Megan Leilani McClung, USMC, was the first female United States Marine Corps officer killed in mcclung (2)the Iraq War. She was also the first female graduate of the United States Naval Academy killed in action since the founding of the school in 1845.

She worked as a Public Affairs Officer in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq. Public Affairs is a vital supporting role of the military, especially the Marines. In addition to being tasked with providing information about the Marine Corps to the media, a PAO fulfills numerous requests for aircraft, military bands, speakers and the like. They write articles, publish base newspapers and manage websites. They are instrumental in communications and the exchange of information.

It may sound like an easy job. But surely it can’t be easy in a war-torn area such as Iraq.

From what I’ve read about Major McClung, she was up to the task.

From an early age, Megan McClung had chutzpah. When she was denied entry into the boy’s weightlifting program in school, she went to the school board and won. When some Marines returned from field missions in Iraq were denied entry into the mess hall until they’d showered, McClung made sure they first got fed.

Major McClung must have inherited the desire to serve. Both her maternal and paternal grandfathers served as did her father. It was only natural she would attend the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1995 and receiving her officer’s commission.

On the day of her death, Major McClung was supposed to be escorting Oliver North. She switched with a gunnery sergeant to accompany the Newsweek crew instead. Her Humvee was following the Newsweek crew when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) destroyed the Humvee, killing McClung and two other occupants.

A very good article about Major McClung can be found on the Military Times website: http://bit.ly/1u5cNNg

Tributes to Major McClung abound on the Internet. She was respected and liked by her fellow Marines and loved by family and friends. Her family periodically updates her Facebook page, honoring her spirit and her life. One particularly moving tribute on FB: http://on.fb.me/1zz00Hi

Megan McClung collected inspiring quotes from the age of nine. One in particular is a quote everyone should live by: To do anything but your best is to waste the gift.

Her mantra, Be bold, be brief, be gone, is engraved upon her headstone in Arlington National Cemetary.

Major McClung is not the only woman killed in the line of duty. Women served during the American Revolution as cooks and nurses; some disguised themselves as men to fight in combat. As early as 1918, women enlisted in the Marine Corps, though they were limited to clerical duties. Women’s roles in the military have expanded greatly since that time, limited only by the exception of offensive combat. Thousands of women have given their lives serving in the United States military.

I have a deep-seated respect for anyone willing to put their lives on the line for what s/he believes in. I may not support war in general, but I support those strong enough and brave enough to defend.

I did not know Major McClung personally. I wish I could have known her. She was bold. But her time here was all too brief.

Women Marines Association

http://bit.ly/12OSuht

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and e-book formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle is a fictitious account of an EMP attack. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 Follow her on Twitter @penspen or visit her website at www.penspen.info

 longroad

Start Prepping Now

Book Review

The Long Road

Michael Hopf

344 pages

Publisher: Plume

Sold by: Penguin Group

Post-apocalyptic scenarios fascinate me. I find the indomitability of human survival against overwhelming odds oddly hopeful.

Michael Hopf gets into the action in The Long Road pretty quick.

Even without the advantage of having read the first entry in the series – The End – I had no difficulty catching up and understanding what had happened and what was going on. Mr. Hopf deftly wove the backstory of the first book into the second, thus enabling the reader to follow the story without lengthy explanations or the absolute necessity to read the first book.

The characters are rich and vivid. I had no trouble empathizing with the good guys and despising the bad guys. And the bad guys are truly detestable.

It is a race against time for survival as what was once America continues to break down into a primitive, apathetic, lawless and frightening world in which to live. And with three sanctions vying for power in this post-apocalyptic land, it’s anyone’s guess what the country will look like once the dust has settled.

The intensity of the action and drama had me glued to my seat: I actually read the entire book in one sitting, reluctant to take a break to even refresh my cup of tea. It is rare that I am so compelled to read a book that I don’t want to break away from it to refresh my tea!

Yes, the book could use some editing, but that can be said about the books of Dean Koontz, James Rollins and countless other tomes coming out of traditional publishing houses these days. I have developed a degree of tolerance for errors because that isn’t going to change anytime soon. The errors in the book are few so it doesn’t interfere so much with the reading experience.

The only drawback, of course, is that now I need to acquire the third book to find out what happens next. Several cliffhangers were included (no spoilers!) and inquiring minds must know. The fourth installment isn’t due out until 2015, so I have a little time to catch up.

The scenarios painted in The Long Road are grim but very realistic. It’s easy to visualize those events actually occurring should our nation be attacked on the level depicted in the book. With the current state of the world and people being people, I am surprised something like this has not already occurred.

Although when I view the 6:00 news, I wonder just how far off those events truly are.

With those words, I’m going to start prepping now.

If you’re interested, check out G. Michael Hopf’s Amazon Author Page where each novel in the series is listed. http://amzn.to/1vWDEiA

Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle is a fictitious account of an EMP attack. Visit Nero’s Fiddle website at http://bit.ly/1yYsNH2 Follow her on Twitter @penspen, visit her website at http://www.penspen.info or follow her blog www.mytuppence.weebly.com Contact her at mytuppenceblog at yahoo.com to inquire about proofreading, editing and formatting services.

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